Saturday, February 23, 2013

Big Sidecountry Cliff Drops and Painful Injury

Today Emily, Chris and I had a great day of powder at Skibowl on Mt. Hood.  The outback was open by about 11am and we got to hit up some first tracks back there.  I found that my favorite 30-35 foot cliff wasn’t touched yet and was amped to point my fat boards off the end of it.  Visibility was a little low so I hollered down to Holm to see what the landing was like.  He gave me a thumbs up and I pointed it.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten that my boots were still in walk mode and I ended up rotating onto my back in mid-air.  It was more air than I expected too as I popped off the top of the cliff.  Thankfully, it was fluffy powder and my DSLR in my backpack wasn’t damaged from the impact.  

We headed back up again for a second drop which I landed a bit better.  Holm went for it too but caught a rock on the edge and fell off the click to Emily’s dismay filming below.  After the 2nd drop I decided to not push my luck any further.  But... 20 minutes later while following Holm out of the outback down a steep face I jumped over some bushes into a small area of powder and the slope slid out from under me, flipping me onto my back and upside down.... headed straight for a stand of Doug Fir trees.  This is pretty much the worst position a skier can find themselves in as I had no way to slow myself and just braced myself for what I thought would be a life changing neck or spinal injury.  

Thankfully, I bounced off the first tree, crushing my shoulder in and not my neck.  It knocked the wind out of me and caused me to drop one of my poles.  When I came to a stop I just lay there moaning trying to catch my breath before joining a concerned looking Holm and Emily below.  We skied down to the base and took a chair up again to the warming hut but by then I was ringing in pain and barely able to move my arm.  I asked them to keep skiing and look for my pole while I had a beer in the hut and rested.  They never found my pole but while in the hut in misery I happened to sit next to an orthopedic doctor’s assistant who rotated my arm and tested out my shoulder.  While doing so I felt as if my spine slid back into place from where my shoulder had wrenched it free, thus feeling enormously better.  

For the next couple weeks it was very painful to cough, especially to sneeze and I believe I tore some cartilage in my rib cage and possibly also bruised/cracked a rib on my left side from the impact that could have been far.. far worse.

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